Proper hydration is important to maintaining numerous bodily functions. The normal process of detoxification that occurs as a result of an individual’s liver metabolizing and ridding the body of toxins requires proper hydration.
Individuals who develop physical dependence on a drug and attempt to discontinue it will experience withdrawal effects as the liver removes the drug from their system (even a hangover is a partial form of withdrawal). Remaining hydrated helps to flush toxins through the liver and out of the body; a small amount of toxins is also eliminated from the body through perspiration, but the majority of toxins are metabolized in liver and excreted. Remaining hydrated gives the liver the mechanism it needs to be efficient in running the normal detoxification process and will result in the body being more efficient in ridding itself of toxins. Proper hydration can also reduce symptoms of withdrawal and cravings, and help the system to reset itself back to normal.
Effects of Dehydration
Dehydration occurs when the body does not have sufficient fluid. It can be disguised under other symptoms associated with withdrawal from drugs that can include:
- Increased thirst
- Dry mouth and even a swollen tongue
- Dry or cracked lips, dry skin, or blurry vision
- Dizziness and weakness
- Feeling faint, which often occurs when changing positions
- Irregular heartbeat
- Muscle cramps
- Decreased perspiration or urination
- Dark urine or extremely yellow urine
- Mental confusion
The Importance of Hydration during Detox
According to medical sources and nutritional guides, such as Discovering Nutrition, an individual should consume approximately 0.5-1 ounce of water per pound of bodyweight on a daily basis; however, if you are perspiring a lot as a result of the withdrawal process, it’s a good idea to consume even more water. Because individuals who have been abusing alcohol or drugs are often more prone to issues with dehydration, it may be more prudent to attempt to consume 1.5-2 ounces of water per pound of bodyweight if in recovery.
Individuals in recovery who are also involved in exercise programs that involve movement may require even more water. The use of certain types of sports drinks may be advantageous it may help to supply electrolytes and minerals; however, it is important to check with one’s treating physician regarding the use of these.
Often, individuals who are in a medically assisted withdrawal management program are given fluids intravenously (IV fluids) to ensure they remain hydrated and that the detoxification process goes smoothly. Even with an IV, one should endeavor to consume plenty of fluid during recovery.
Some of the ways to do this include:
- Meet or even slightly exceed daily water intake requirements given to you by healthcare providers.
- Avoid caffeine, as caffeine is a diuretic and increases fluid loss.
- Utilize juice, fruits, and other foods that are high in liquid.
- Decaffeinated tea and other drinks may help to break the monotony of simply drinking water.
- It is best to avoid soda, as it contains high levels of sodium and often caffeine.
- Drink a large glass of water first thing in the morning and right before retiring in the evening.
- Increase your water intake during periods of activity.
- Sometimes, hunger is a sign of dehydration, so make sure to drink liquids with meals and include liquids when eating snacks.